Easy down the inland route

By: Peter Schlenk, Photography by: Peter Schlenk

Lenny Turner enjoys driving his boss’s 2005 Western Star 4800, but not enough to tempt away from upgrading to a Peterbilt 388.

Easy down the inland route
ABC Towing’s Western Star 4800 has travelled over 1.5 million kilometres


Lenny Turner does in regular run in an ABC Towing Western Star south to Brisbane from his Townsville home base, pulling a road train through Charters Towers, Roma and Toowoomba.

Even with the extra distance covered, mainly from Toowoomba to Brisbane, Lenny finds it an easy two-day run.

"I try not to bring both trailers in at the same time," Lenny says. "It saves an extra run up to the range but sometimes it just happens. You have to have them in at the same time – it’s just the way it goes."

It was at the BP Archerfield in Brisbane on a Friday where Owner//Driver caught up with Lenny. He wasn’t in any hurry to return home however, happy to have a couple of days in south-east Queensland.

"My two daughters Makayla and Kaitlyn are competing in a cheerleading competition on the Gold Coast," Lenny explains. "So I’m going down to watch them and then head back up on Sunday night."

ABC Towing boss Rupendra Singh, also in Brisbane, but was about to head home after leaving his car for Lenny to use over the weekend. It would then be part of Lenny’s next load back to Townsville.

"It’s a great job," Lenny smiles. "I have a good boss that really looks after me, and that’s half the battle.

"By working together I get heaps of flexibility and then when needed, I work my arse off for him."

ABC Towing has a fleet of around 25 trucks of various sizes that undertake a variety of jobs.

"We have big and small trucks; run road trains, tow trucks, tilt slides, drop decks and have a 4x4 float," Lenny adds.

Lenny started with ABC five years ago and was asked which truck he wanted to drive. He spotted a 2005 Western Star 4800 parked down the back of the depot.

"I took the truck nobody wanted and took it home, cleaned and polished it," Lenny recalls.

"I put a lot of work into it and now it’s the truck with a million and a half kilometres on it. The boss is happy and I’m happy."

The Western Star has a Caterpillar up front set at 550hp coupled to an 18 speed gearbox and an airbag rear end. It’s an ex QFM truck which Lenny says is easily recognisable.

"I once carted a helicopter down to Brisbane from Townsville. It was a rescue helicopter and it obviously drew quite a bit of attention, but believe it or not I probably had as many people ask about the old QFM truck as they did about the helicopter."

Quad box test

Lenny’s liking for a clean looking rig is a trait that can be traced back to his family’s history in transport.

"It goes back generations," he explains. "My grandfather Ron and father Paul both had trucks and I started working for my grandfather as soon as I left school. That where I did my training as a mechanic.

"I started driving in the old Flintstone Macks and Road Commanders."

Lenny tells of the time he went for his driving test in a quad box Mack. The examiner opened the left hand door and just said "no".

"They turned me away because if we had any problems, he couldn’t drive the quad box with two sticks. He had no idea," he laughs.

Lenny ended up going out with a mate and doing the road training upgrade, making a lot of trips out to Mt Isa in road trains and then jumping up to his multi-combination.

"Twenty years later here I am today and I love it, I really do," he adds.

Before starting with ABC Towing, Lenny took a year away from the industry to concentrate on photography.

"I was a bit over trucks at the time; I needed a break and was missing the kids so I dusted off my cameras.

"I did vehicle and landscape photography for 12 months and now I’ve come back with a passion for the job again.

"It was good to have the break," he says.

As much as he enjoys the old Western Star, Lenny was preparing for a change and moving up to an-ex-Truckworks tri-axle Peterbilt 388. "The truck has a 48-inch bunk; it’s a beautiful truck," he exclaims.

"I’ve done a few trips down here with it and, while it definitely isn’t a European truck, it rides as well as one. It’s fantastic."

Roadside cooking

While on the long-haul runs Lenny likes to cook his own food on the side of the road, carrying his own stove and other cooking gear. However, when running to a schedule and the need to make a mile, he’s taken to including a microwave in the Western Star.

"A mate of mine recently offered me a microwave that I couldn’t resist," he says.

"I got a bit lazy too and my partner Mel makes up frozen meals at home as it’s so quick and easy. I haven’t looked back since."

Once officially in the Peterbilt, Lenny will be doing some work with the 4x4 float, a task he’s looking forward to.

"That is our biggest float, anything bigger tends to be too much trouble, particularly finding good drivers who are capable of the work," he says.

"You come down here to Brisbane and I’ll be polishing the truck or blackening the tyres and the amount of job offers I get is surprising.

"They ask if I’m looking for a good job but I’m very happy here, especially now I’ll be getting the Pete."

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